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What is Truth?

What is truth? Is it something to hide from? Is it something to repel from? Or is it something that should remain unknown? It seems that truth is often locked away in the vaults of many human consciences, because there is a common belief that it is better to keep it a secret than to expose it.

Clearly human beings were not created to be perfect; however, we were given the ability to discern the difference between right and wrong except those who were inflicted with a brain injury or defect particularly in the cerebrum that controls and integrates thoughts and reason. This discernment is why our conscience send signals or sensations within our bodies when we do something wrong, tell a lie, or witness someone else being harmed by another and do nothing. When this occurs we rationalize whether we should tell the truth or pretend we know nothing. This internal debate usually falls on the side of self-preservation from being embarrassed, being inconvenienced, or having to sacrifice time or energy in helping another.

It is indisputable fact…a lie is a lie…no matter how small or how big it is. Yet each day we find ourselves telling lies believing that it will make life easier. Some of these lies might be as simple as making an excuse not to see a friend or relative, or fabricating an illness to skip a day of work. Why do we add these little fibs to justify why we do not want to do something? Is it not easier to say “sorry I am not up to visiting today” or “I will not be coming into work today?” We are making these choices for our own sake so there is no reason to justify it with a lie.

Interestingly, we somehow in our collective human consciousness have determined it is easier and better to suppress a lie than to speak the truth, especially when we know someone has been harmed. Again, people will rationalize that more harm will be inflicted on the person being lied to if the truth is known. However, what we fail to realize is that we do not have the power to read or know the mind of the person that we believe we are protecting. There is a good chance that person is fully aware of the truth, but too paralyzed with fear or depression to do anything about it. So, perhaps our choice to withhold the truth is more to protect ourselves than the person actually being harmed.

Strangely, for those who are willing to fall on their swords to expose an injustice that has befallen on others whether they know the people or not; they are often abandoned, betrayed, harassed, hated, mocked, or threatened by those who also witnessed the same injustice. Even when there is indisputable evidence of a crime such as fraud, people will have excuses not to help such as “I will not take part in any smear campaign” or “I still have dealings with that person and I do not want to jeopardize it.” And many take the principle of “turning the other cheek” too literally by turning a blind eye to an injustice.

What I just described is something I have experienced in the last year. Tragically, I am one of many people who have been financially destroyed and/or emotionally harmed by a non-profit organization that has used children, poverty, and God to defraud people for millions of dollars which the entire amount is yet to be determined. This fraud included activities with intercountry adoption, business investments and charitable projects in Liberia such as schools, a clinic, educational scholarships, water and sanitation, etc. This was one reason that brought me back to Liberia earlier this year. I have attempted to take legal action against unrealized business venture that was intended to support the organization’s projects, and also to expose the organization’s falsified claims of “doing good.” I have uncovered many facts since July 2008 by independently conducting my own online research and on-the-ground investigation.

What makes this so aggravating is that I was totally oblivious to what was going on. I had been deeply involved with the organization since its creation; because it was founded by—who I believed was—a dear friend of mine. Regrettably, time and distance were this person’s advantage, because they were living in Liberia majority of the time, whereas I was in the U.S. working or completing my bachelor’s degree.

I had known this person nearly 20 years, so I had developed a great deal of confidence and trust in them. This blinded confidence and trust could have continued, but my eyes were opened after volunteering one year with the organization. In fact, I initially planned to be in Liberia for six months to one year to open the hotel business that we ventured into in July 2005. The building had been under construction since that time, and most of the supplies and equipment had been purchased and sent in belief that it would open late 2006. For whatever reason that opening date was postponed to 2007, and this is when I embarked on venture that forever changed my life.

During the first few months I would discover that the organization was bankrupted, which left me confused. I was too distracted in trying to keep this organization a float during the next few months that I was not able to see or understand what was happening. Well, it was during the last four months that the blinders were removed, and when I discovered what was really going on. In fact, my friendship ended and for the remaining two months in Liberia it was a living hell. By this time I was extremely exhausted, had no money or place to go, and fell into depression because I could not understand what was happening.

Suddenly, I became powerless, and yet still a threat. So, in my weakened condition, this person did whatever they could to beat me down more, because I now knew the truth and this was the best way to keep me silent. Therefore, I was publicly berated and my efforts were undermined every chance they could. When I tried to speak, my words were turn against me so I decided it was better to be silent and just observe the person’s actions and behaviors. By doing this, I was able to see that my friend was now a stranger; they were nothing like the person I believed they were. From this realization, I started re-examining the history of our friendship and wondered where did the truth end and lies began. Well, when I returned home to the U.S. I was so ashamed and still so confused, and from the abuse I experienced I was first paralyzed with fear. However, as I regained my strength and spirit, I soon started on what would become a long journey in discovering what the truth was.

Since then, I have found the quest for “truth and justice” is often a lonely journey. Many times your hopes rise and fall in matter of hours or days when a promise to help becomes unfilled. Eventually, there is a revolving door of people coming and going to where you become extremely tired and frustrated with empty promises.

From my own exhausting journey, I can see now why it took so long to expose the likes of Bernie Madoff, Allen Stanford, and Tom Petters with their elaborate schemes to defraud people for multi-billions of dollars. This has also made me question will there be justice for the people they harmed and destroyed? Madoff, Stanford, and Petters will spend the rest of their lives in a minimum- to medium-security prison with three meals daily, clean clothes, cable TV, and bed to sleep in while countless number of people have become homeless and destitute. Where is the justice in that?

I know this is the case for the number of impoverished Liberians who has suffered from this organization’s schemes. They were promised jobs, education for their children, medical facilities, improved sanitation and safe water, etc. Instead, they were left with nothing, and many of them wasted their time working for the organization often with no pay believing that something better will happen. These are people who are often subject to these types of abuses, and who normally go unheard and unseen, so they usually get no justice.

When you lose everything you have, it is not easy to start from at the bottom. This experience humbles you, and gives you a keener awareness of those who never leave the bottom. It is an experience that changes your outlook on life, and also places you with a great burden. When you possess the knowledge of a great injustice, it is not something that you can easily forget or ignore, because too many lives were impacted. And for people living in impoverished nations who are often the victims of fraudulent adoption and charitable schemes, as in this case, they are easily forgotten and ignored by those in richer nations.

As I conclude this post, I have often been asked to abandon this journey for my own sake and sanity. But for whatever reason I remain haunted by the facts and knowledge that I possess of the lives and livelihoods that have been lost and destroyed. I still get my hopes up by others who were defrauded only to be let down later. So, I leave this post still wondering “What is truth?”


jap21's picture

Hi Heather

Life is tough my friend. Truth can only be seen through results. Many good people I know have struggled all their lives for funding, and when they got it, they messed up. Many others have 'the touch' and get funding, mess up, and get away with it.

But there is a select group of people that will DO what they tell you. Many things happen on the way, as nothing is sweet and tender all the time, but at the end of it, they do what they are supposed to do and things get better, step by step.

The problem is how to bring together funding and people who will do the job rightiously. In my post graduate course I presented a forum about this. We should create a forum that goes even further, a forum that will mix people working, with people donating, in truthful ways.

There is an IADB project that works on it, but they have not been able to reach real workers. They have reached many dreamers who don`t do the job. Let's see how it goes. They need to open up and create something like Pulsewire, but for ngos. It would be awesome.

As for your loss, hope is the last thing to die. My friend, hang in there! Don't let the bad ones take it all! Teach them a lesson. Find a way. Find the strength. Have faith.

With love and respect,


Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America

heatherc67's picture

Thanks Jackie

I appreciate your comments about this issues, and especially your encouraging words at the end.

I wrote this article after discovering this NGO held a fundraiser in the states for 40 children in orphanage in Liberia when there is none, and then last week they host a symposium with the senators over a pending legislation that includes new adoption laws. This organization has been under investigation by the Liberian government since January when they imposed the moratorium, and also the government removed the children that were in there care in March. It is like they use smoke and mirrors to convince people that all is well and they can give them money, and people will without verifying anything.

When you discover these fraudulent schemes and do everything possible to expose it, you find yourself hitting your head against a brick wall. It is at these times, you really start wondering about the world we are in now.

I like what you said "Teach them a lesson." I just hope they are willing to learn...

Many blessings,


jap21's picture

Doesn't matter

Do your part, teach them the lesson, then leave it all to God (or the Universe forces), if they don't want to learn it is up to them. You just do your part and teach them well.



Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America

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